Monday, December 29, 2008

Litchi growers demanding for the formation of co-operatives.

I went to the villages of Kaparpura and Sarmaspur in the Muzaffarpur district of Bihar state for my field work segment (FWS). Muzaffarpur district ranks number one in production of Litchi(Litchi Chinensis). It accounts for 70% India's Litchi export. The agro-climatic condition of the district is conducive for litchi cultivation. My themepaper for the FWS was " exploring various kinds of horticultural products and their marketing networks in the Kaparpura and Sarmaspur." Litchi was one among the various other horticultural products under my study. Here I would like to share the amazing facts regarding production and marketing of litchi. I will emphasize much on the marketing aspects of litchi.
there were 52 farmers owning litchi orchard. out of that only two owners were directly involved into marketing. Rest have sold their orchard to the local middleman called paikaar. The orchard owner sell their trees in the orchard to these middleman on the basis of previous year yeild. once the orchard is sold the risk is transferred to middleman. these middle mand have contacts with the businessman outside the state. in the month of April which is the season for the litchi, these businessman send their traders to the city of Muzaffarpur. these traders purchase the litchi tree from the middleman. Grading, sorting and packaging in done in the fields. After that the packed fruits are transported to the markets of Delhi, Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh. On the basis of that day market price, the price of litchi boxes are decided. the businessman informs the local middleman. upon his confirmation, boxes are sold in the market. The entire transaction takes place verbally. There is no written contract or agreement.
I wanted to know about the non-involvement of orchard owners into direct marketing of litchi. For this purpose, conducted three rounds of focus group discussion with different sets of growers. The most common reason for their non-involvement was the very short shelf life of litchi. it is just 24-36 hr. Also these growers do not have link outside the state market for exporting the fruit. so they are dependend upon the middleman and are devoid of reaping actual benefit out of litchi export. this is the scenario at the villages of my study. Most of the growers agreed that if the government starts co-operatives for litchi, then they will sell their produce to the co-operative and the government will look after the marketing of the fruits. by doing so the growers will reap maximum benefit. the litchi is sold in boxes as well as in the bunch of 100 pieces. the litchi which costs Rs. 15-25/100 piece costs around Rs. 120/kg in the markets of Ahmedabad. If co-operative is formed, the role of middleman will be abolished. Growers will be involved in the production as well as selling processes.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Education in tribal areas

I went for the fieldwork in the tribal area of Nandurbar district and my theme paper was on education. These areas are totally isolated from rest of country. The language spoken by majority of native people is only Bhilori and that creates a barrier to communication to the external world. The medium of education in the local schools is Marathi. The concept of playschool is absent in the village as the anganwadi exist just for namesake. So a child is introduced to altogether a different environment with teachers speaking in a totally alien language. These conditions generate fear for school among the young children. All these schools are affiliated to Maharashtra state education board and all the education material and syllabus is same throughout the state. Thus a tribal child will be studying the same things as studied by a child studying in metro cities like Mumbai. In such condition it becomes difficult for a tribal student to associate his learning in classroom with the external environment. Thus he loses interest in his studies and quit going to school if parent do not force him to do so.
Spread of education can play a catalytic role in development of these areas. Thus there is a need to ensure that government agencies, teachers and the tribal people join hands to improve the present situation. Education department should publish separate books and curriculum for the tribal children at least for the primary standard. The education material should be such that a student is able to relate it to environment around him. Educated people in tribal areas should be given special training and then they should be recruited as primary teachers. This will ensure that the teachers know vernacular language as well as the language spoken in state. Employment to educated tribal people will also inspire others to study. Panchayat has an important role to play in the process of transformation. They should ensure that schools are running properly and encourage people to send their children to school. Village education society should consist of educated and enthusiastic young people.
All these things collectively can help to ameliorate the condition of the tribal areas of the country.


Today's win win game was really an eye opener. Why did we all end up loosing 760 points when we would have ended up scoring 1000?

The problem was probably in our lack of understanding that we cannot win only by defeating others. All the teams ended up thinking that they have to score the highest, be it at the cost of others. At the beginning, three teams chose rabbit, and one team went for rat. Had that team, selected rabbit too, all would have ended gaining collectively. But then, the incentive for sticking to rat was quite higher - there was gain always except when all the four teams chose rat . Most of the time, all the teams ended up choosing rat thus taking the score to negative. But this atleast ensured that all the teams were getting negative.

This was just a game so we could end up thinking that we all would have gained. But is it applicable in today's cut throat competetive world. Even the win -win rule can not be applied everywhere. Nature also follows the survival of the fittest rule. I would cite the simple case of tehri dam over here.

Tehri dam (2006) , in Uttarakhand is one of the highest dams in the world. The dam is at present providing electricity and drinking water to Delhi and U.P. and earning a huge profit for the newly built state Uttarakhand. But at whose cost? Yes... at the cost of the interest of the localites who had to evacuate their ancestral lands. Of course, the government ensured that these evacuated families be rehabilitated. Out of the many, some 100 families were rehabilitated on the outskirts of Dehradoon. Out of the frying pan, they are literally into the fire again. These people were given land in lieu of their homes in Tehri but the expansion of Jolly Grant airport is threatening to uproot them one more time. Needless to say, the dam resulted in the loss of rich fauna and flora of the area apart from the historical old Tehri and singori- the tastiest sweets of Garhwal region. Was the collective action really able to create a win- win situation in this case. What went wrong here ? We were able to quote many mistakes in the game but what went wrong in this real life situation and why we were not able to create a win- win condition here??????

CAC win win game

I feel there is an intrinsic flaw in today's CAC game. If everyone cooperates and plays to create collective benefits to all group, it can be done in only one way. All groups if played so will end up winning 1000 points totally. This is possible with only one case and that is last option in cac tau material (E option in cac book i.e. if everyone selects rabbit). Otherwise it is a "zero sum game". One group has to lose in order to let other group win. Even if one group does not go as per option 6 then everyone will end up losing. This I feel is not case always. There should be an incentive to correct any wrongdoings of the past. This game totally discourages a concept of co operation if single group defects. If one group previously defected (due to any reasons like greed, lack of knowledge) wants to correct their stand in second round should be rewarded with benefits of cooperation. Other groups which are not defecting and following principles of cooperation should not penalized so heavily that they end up losing. Their margin of profit should be reduced instead.

I tried to find out any other option where total sum of all group's gain end up in positive but could not succeed. I will be happy if anyone finds out such combination.

Lessons from Chak De India

Remember "Jo nahin ho sakta hai, wahi to karna hai". The story Chak de India was simple, characters full of personality, there was humor, defeat, victory and the game of hockey!!!!The movie is around that How the Impossible is made Possible when all the team members start delievering.
  • If you have the talent, passion and commitment, you can make underdogs win
  • Its not good to mix personal and professional lives.
  • At times tough decisions has to be taken.
  • Team/Organization is always bigger than the individual.
  • Taking the Challenges as oppurtunites.
  • Dream big as without dream nothing is achieved.
  • Strategy is important - know the team members individual strengths and weaknesses.
  • We have to identify as Indians first and rise above our affiliations with our states, religions and castes.
  • We must embrace discipline to strictly follow every step required for success.
  • We have to put the interest of our nation ahead of our personal interests, subordinating our egos and biases.
  • Put in tremendous hard work and make short-term sacrifices for long-term glory.

The movie clearly demonstrated how an underdog hockey team can achieve world cup by virtue of inspired leadership and collective action.

Reflections on Win-Win

In today's dog eat dog competition is "Win-Win" possible? when we are concerned for our "win"do we care this Win-Win....but....hold on...Why do I use dog eat dog phrases.To a great extent it depends upon how do I perceive these outcomes.Isn't it?

say for example my friend and I appear for an interview. He gets selected and I am not...can it be a "win win" situation for me?.... It's "win" situation for my friend( I assume) as he is selected, and for me can it be a "win" situation too, because he(my friend) is selected...Yes,it can be.

ActuallyI see flaw in my thinking(that I have accumulated till now) that seeks my own benifit at the cost of others in any situation... and here is this win win approach ...probably giving us one of the important messages of our Vedas"SANGACHADWAM,SAMVADADWAM,SAMVOMANASI JANATAM"(lets go together,let's speak together and there be a uniformity in our actions and in our heart).

Friday, December 26, 2008

Reflection on today's game

Some thing very interesting came out from today’s game. What if these group leaders do not know each other i.e. you do not know players of the game, how would you negotiate? The problem is more of information symmetry. Until we are, assure of what others are going to do, most of us will always be trying to minimise the negative payoffs rather than targeting positive payoffs, probability of which is very low. Many of us are risk-averse by nature and this nature is reinforced once you see the possibility of long chain of negative outcomes.

Even after negotiation, one group reneged on its promise, reason being short-term gain. The challenge is still how to inculcate these thought process of collective action in the situation of information asymmetry.

What if in the very first round we had that unexpected result of rabbit chosen by all the groups. In that case would we perpetuate the same result, I guess no. the incentive of one group to renege is still so high.

Then how can we restore this outcome. I think negotiation repeatedly. However, this negotiation will be successful only if games are to be played infinitely. It is very difficult to get the required result through out the number of times games are played finitely. Group will always try to deviate in the last round and because all groups will think in the same way, they know they will get the negative payoff; they will try to renege on the penultimate round. Taking this logic forward, it will not be surprising to see the deviated results from the first round itself.

Another thing to take note is the discussion that emerged once the instructor moved out of the room. All of us wanted to go for rabbit because we are tired of loosing. Most of us implicitly agreed that we should go for rabbit but then again one group reneged and look, how this affected the course of the game at least for the coming two rounds.

This is also a good illustration that most of the disadvantages that we could feel due to lack of collective action are intangible. The damages that are done to the environment hardly capture our attention because we are not going to be affected by it at the moment we commit something hazardous. What if instead of losing points, we were losing money, in that case after some losses I am sure that some strong mechanism of control must have emerged and people deviating from the norms must have been punished or at least were not allowed to play the game. I think the solution lies in the strong resolution to care for the short term and intangible losses. This will lead to collective action but how to control people who are not in proximity?
Can somebody help?


when we talk about co-operation, it usually happens (i presume) that all the concerned involved are aware of the possible benefits that would accrue on co-opearting and the harms that would result from doing so. but when there are incentives for people to defect from the common understanding, there are high probabilites that a person/group would do so, and why not when they are going to benefit from it. (this is what probably happened in the game). so is co-operation a good word to just talk about, does it actually carry some meaning, will people co-operate on their own, when there are incentives for defecting. i dont think so. i think people on their own will not co-operate, when the situation is such.......rather they have to be forced to co-operate with some dis-incentives on failing to do so and this co-operation must be beneficial for the whole as well as for the part. indeed we all are a part of the larger whole.......but it depends on how we view it......for some the whole may be they themselves, for some their households and family, for some their country (a bit rare) and for some the whole humanity (even rarer). it depends on which whole we identify ourselves as a part of, and accordingly our actions will be shaped. comments solicited.................

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Purpose of co-operation

I had always been in a kind of shell, that I am self sufficient and I don’t need any body to help me. Several times had come when I was required to seek help from others, but demanding help from other was against my principles. I don’t know whether that was my self confidence or my arrogance. I was sceptical that why people takes help and what is the need of taking help from outside when we are often told, we are the supreme creatures and we have the power of thinking that other living organism lacks. The Big words like mutual help and co-operation were just jumbled alphabets for me, but the time since I started reading ‘Collective Action Component’ as a paper in the second term, my opinion has changed and now I have other questions hammering me all the time. Now I have the questions like what will happen if I refuse to help others and what will I feel if I demand help from others and they refuse me to help? The only answer comes to my mind that it will create a distance between me and others, in other words the social or personal relation between individuals may get deteriorated. Is the motive of maintaining harmonious relationship, the root cause of co-operation or help? If the answer is yes, than isn’t is our selfishness. And if the answer is no, than it implies that we need co-operation in each and every sphere of life. Then my question is what the importance of an individual in the society, when s/he is not able to survive without others. We are being taught that each and every individual is special and has some unique features, than what’s the use of that individuality if we are interdependent for our survival.
In my opinion, co-operation comes, when an individual recognise his inability to overcome any problem. He then seeks others help to solve his problem and again it a self motive of the agent that is going to be served by the other agents in the system. So it is the selfish nature of mankind that creates the co-operation and the process keeps on going.
I may be wrong about the understanding of the concept of co-operation but I have never witnessed any co-operation that excludes profit motive or better to say deriving profit for self. We say that we should work as a team and must co-operate with each other but my question is, by co-operation aren’t we limiting our capabilities and increasing interdependency?
I am not denying the importance of co-operation, as we are man and not God, we need others help and co-operation. But the prime objective of co-operation should be CO-EXISTENCE and not merely existence.

Collective Action in Lagaan

Lagaan, primarily a critique on British imperialism, is a film steeped in Marxist ideology with the symbol of the village as a potentially liberating force of collective reaction and revolution. Lagaan is an excellent example of a mainstream film that has highlighted the process of inclusion of a dalit disabled person. The movie is set in the Victorian period of the British Raj, and revolves around the peasants from a barren village who are oppressed by high taxes imposed by the British. When the peasants attempt to persuade the officers to reduce the taxes, the officers put forth a proposition to the peasants. One senior officer offers them to cancel their taxes for three years if their village team beats them at cricket. After accepting this proposition, the villagers face the arduous task of learning the game and playing for a result that will change their village's destiny.

Bhuvan takes up the impossible task of defeating the British in a game of cricket, which Captain Russell puts forward to him when the villagers say they cannot pay the tax that year.Bhuvan- The Leader
Building the Team, Allocating Roles, Realising self efficacy, Supports the Team Members, Leads from the Front, Defines the Enemy, Trains and Practices, Never Gives Up, It's about Team Spirit.

Above all, Lagaan is about people. Ordinary, average people, who are going about their lives - like each of us. Who, when the moment demands, do extraordinary deeds. It is about the power of a Team - the muthi ("closed fist"). As a team, they were fighting for the future of tens of thousands of their countrymen against a heartless enemy (the British). They had few resources, and little knowledge of the game of cricket. What they did not lack was fighting and team spirit, and the will to win. They were not playing a game; they were fighting a war.

Fictional society Part I

Gidden says that reflective monitoring of actions and rationalization of action of agent is very important to create a structured society. Rationalization of action is practical consciousness and reflective monitoring of action is discursive consciousness. Practical consciousness is routine work that we do in day to day life like getting up in the morning, going to classes, having lunch etc. These actions are not thought of in our mind before doing them. Only if any deviation occurs, we think about it. Discursive action is reflection on those actions. When we walk on the road, we see that we follow traffic rule so that you do not get hurt or nobody else is harmed. This reflective monitoring of action is necessary to create a social structure. This is what Gidden Says.

But what if….

The practical consciousness part of Godden’s argument is removed. How would be social structure then? What if our daily routine is a pure reflective motoring act? To explain further, I would take bath if I do reflective monitoring of my action and see that I am not causing any problem to my fellow friends by smelling bad. Ain't many people do that in the society? Then, isn't practical consciousness caused by or an outcome of reflective motoring of action?
The reflective monitoring of action will force people to think about broader aspect of society rather than sticking to his own “I’. If everyone behave reflectively without any practical consciousness then human altercations, conflicts, atrocities against women, corruption by politician, road accidents, riots can be reduced considerably. If this comes out to be true then I feel that would be better social structure than the present one. What say????

"Fictional Society II" follows...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

HIV and collective action

ila mam's comments on HIV AIDS and men's contribution has set me thinking...

the moot question is whether collective cooperation across gender is possible/needed in this case??

i believe v wil need to understand the problem better bfor recommending solutions...the questions v wil need to address are :-

1) are men solely to blame?

2) even if they are, wil their abstinence alone solve the issue?

3) if men are solely to blame, how do v bring this problem under the scope of collective action. I mean, should the collective action be of men alone.

But then, isnt it also true tat women are also gettin affected by it? So, should the stakeholders b both the affected nd the causal agents...please note tat the way v define HIV problem leads to different models of collective action which will finally translate into action plans..

all of urs collective cooperation solicited to resolve my confusion...

Monday, December 22, 2008


ECO DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEES (EDC) are formed by the initiation of Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. Many EDC are functioning in the village Thirunelli. EDCs are formed by the colective effort of Tribal People in the Thirunelli Village, Forest Department of Kerala, Kerala Forest Research Institute. Forest Department was formerly having a centralised system of looking after the Wildlife. Now it has been changed to participatory system. . In olden days, the tribal people in Kerala harvested NTFP (Non Timber Forest Produce), at low impact level. In the context of low employment generation outside the forestry sector, tribes, particularly primitive tribal groups depend heavily on collection of NTFP for their livelihood. Thus this increased demand, however, has transformed the traditional low impact pattern of resource extraction into more intensive forms. So there was illegal trade of the forest produce. This made the centralised system of forest management ineffective. Now in a EDC, the main purpose is to stop the forest encroachment. More than the Forest Officials, the tribes know more about the forest. So a committee was constitued which included both the forest officials and the tribes. The NTFP collection was restricted to Tribals and could be sold by a Schedule Tribe Cooperative Society to the outside market. This brought the information about the encroachment in the forest as well as income for the tribes.
This collective action which include not only the people from the society, but also from the government departments helped to conserve the Forest and make it sustainable

Sunday, December 21, 2008

the discussion that happend in the class regarding giving more money to those who are deprived, more than what they are actually working for, i wonder how is this going to help that poor person. just in case, if all such people are similarly given extra money then ceratinly they will have more money to spend, but on the other hand wont the goods also become expensive, as more money would be available to buy the same goods. consequently, those who would have been brought to a minimum level of comfortable sustenance would again slip below it as the goods and services would also become more expensive. so isnt it a a sort of vicious circle going on. the basic question that i wonder sometimes is whether it is actually possible to remove poverty, because just because millions are poor a lot of vested interests are served. few people get to exploit those who are poor and for the rich its not possible to become rich without exploiting the poor. is it actually possible to eliminate this exploitation completely, this exploitation on which the whole structure of the society is based.

neo-grading system

this is about the grading system proposed in cac class by raju sir...

i just cant find any loopholes in that system..his recommendation was tat the group itself shud give a grading list of members based upon their, the instructor will grade the quality of assignment comin in...suppose he gives a grade B to the group as a based upon the grading list provided by group members, the instructor can assign grades to individual team members so that average of the group turns out to be B...of course, we have to assume that the group members act as rational agents..

lets thrash out the nitty-gritty of this system...i think this system would b better than the current one....the current one just cant identify freeriders..nd the efforts of hardworkers r never recognised...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Obama’s victory-collective action through use of technology

Democracy is not personal, because if it's about anything, it's not about the individual. Democracy is about others. It's about transcending the self and acting collectively. Democracy is people, participating together to make the world a better place.
Victory of obama is an example which will pave the way of technology in stimulating similar use of fighting elections by mobilising people collectively.
The focus on the individual, and its false equation with democracy, began back in the Renaissance. The Renaissance brought us wonderful innovations, such as perspective painting, scientific observation, and the printing press. But each of these innovations defined and celebrated individuality.
The individual we think of today was actually born in the Renaissance. One man, one vote. We fight revolutions for our individual rights as we understood them. There were mass actions, but these were masses of individuals, fighting for their personal freedoms. As individuals become concerned with their personal plights, their former power as a collective moves to central authorities.
Consider any commercial for cologne. Its target audience is not a confident person who already has a girlfriend. The commercial communicates, "wear these cologne, and you'll get to have girlfriend." Who is the target for that message? An isolated, alienated person who does not have girlfriend. The messaging targets the individual. If it's a mass medium, it targets many many individuals.
These things are not genuinely collective at all, in that there's no promotion of interaction between the people in them. Instead, all the individuals relate to the hero, ideal, or mythology at the top. This means the way to participate is not simply to subscribe to an abstract, already-written myth, but to do real things. New technology is not about getting someone elected, it's about removing the obstacles to real people doing what they need to get the job done.
Obama —the first truly Internet-enabled president—we should take him at his word. He does not offer himself as the agent of change, but as an advocate of the change that could be enacted by people.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


One of the major problem that mankind is facing today is terrorism. Around ten years back when India was bleeding with terrorist activities in Kashmir, the world maintained a silence and said it was India's internal problem and its a movement but the moment 9/11 happened the world began defining terrorism with new perspective. Actually its a basic human problem that unless a human being himself experiences the pain he can't relate to it. This is the major cause of of all the evils. Today the whole world is showing sympathies towards India. Why this change in perspective? Has it something to do with emerging Indian market? Has it something to do with 9/11? Has it something to do with the fact that in Mumbai's terrorist attack a lot of foreign civilians were also killed? So the fundamental nature of cooperation is "the common pain". In any kind of cooperation anywhere in the world, the pioneering reason has been the "common pain".
So when US, UK, France and other developed countries have begun experiencing the pain of terrorism similar to that of India, they now understand India's position better and also nowadays we get to listen that every one or the other world leader wants to cooperate with each other to fight terrorism. Again, the basic character of cooperation is that every pertner has to share the benefit. Earlier almost all the terrorists used to take shelter in Britain. Not long ago LITTE'S headquarter was in London. For many years it remained so even when they were involved in so many attacks on honest civilians. After 9/11, they were banned and now we see they have very difficulty in getting the funds. So unless cooperation haapens one can't fight such evil or "the pain". But terrorism is still there because cooperation is not on a mass scale. Now if attacks like 9/11 happens in other countries also(i hope and wish it doesn't happen ), the cooperation would be more and the whole world would cooperate and join the battle. Like terrorism poverty is also an evil and it kills more people than terrorism. But the problem here is that the developed countries cannot exprience "the pain" and without there active support fight against poverty cannot be sustained. Forget about the developed world even the better off population does not cooperate because it cannot relate with the pain of poverty. So, is there no other option? Certainly there is an option. The first option is to get close to the nation with common proble and cooperate with each other to spread the message that the root cause of terrorism is poverty. Once the developed countries realise that the rrot cause fo terrorism is poverty they will cooperate and then then decisive war against terrorism can be fought. Hence the cooperation can happen only when the participants are convinced that they would definitely be benfitted but the purpose can only be solved when everybody benfits with it. To conclude for collective action and cooperation its very imporatant that the right message is spread at the right time among right people. Cooperation and collective action is certainly "the panacea".

Rational people achieve rationally collective outcome ?

Individuals are seen as motivated by wants of goals that express their preferences. They act with specific, given constraints and on the basis of information that they have about their conditions. The idea of rational action has generally been taken to imply a conscious social actor engaging in deliberate calculative strategies.
Trade union, political parties that actions taken by individuals are aggregated and an agreed policy formulated then it is legitimate to speak of collective actor.Rational people have no individual incentive but even OLSON agrees to the presence of selective incentive which alters the cost in such a way as to make support of collective action profitable.
An example of this type of collective action was seen by me during my posting as veterinary doctor in Gopalganj district of Bihar where people took to street and blocked the road due to irregular supply of electricity. Though they were well aware of the fact that it will cause hardship to travellers but the incentive for them was higher and hence they resorted to this mean.Thus collective action generally incorporates some type of incentive to make people act.

Education-- adaptation and experience!!!

Here I want to reflect upon what Raju sir taught us in the class room. He told us that education is not what we get in the classroom but it is gained out in the real world. I t comes with different experiences and our adaptation to that particular situation. This is very much related to my experience of fieldwork. I know whole fieldwork was to gie us the real insights of the rural india. But Prashant and I had an unique experience during our stay at Katri. Probably you all must be knowing about our bitter experience and that we had to leave the village. This experience make me think about what sir taught us. When I reflect upon that experience today, I am in total agreement with the sir. Here in classroom we can sit together and develop hundreds of development plans. But real challenge comes at the time of implementaion. That experience taught me how different is the reality from our classroom or campus environment. It showed me how difficult for any NGO or field worker it can be to enter a new village and implement the plans. We all should think about this and understand by heart what exactly sir wanted to convey. Really education is not a classroom practice but it is a practised and gained in the real world. It gives us the opportunity to understand various situations and our approach to tackle them. We should learn from our previous mistakes and improve upon it. That's what the real education is--continual adaptation.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

India vs England...........a changing perspective.

Yesterday the comment of David LLyod had made me to write this blog. When Tendulkar made his century he said "Mumbai has won .Mumbai has shown the world..............Mumbai responds............". There was not a singal sign of defeat on this ex-English cricketer . Was it purposfully or just an act of consolation? England captain Pieterson's statement to tour India to answer the coward act of terrorists, has some meaning which we should realise. The double standard of England to tour India but not to tour Pakistan need to be seen through a different glass which shows the act of solidarity in the time of crisis. Observations of the western media indicate that now UK and USA are on a line of thinking that Pakistan is a terrorist country. Gorden Brown's recent statement about the terrorists of UK that 75% of them have their roots in Pakistan. It seems that after Mumbai hijack the western perspective have changed and now they are realising that its not the freedom struggle of Kashmir but a terrorist act. Will this bring a collective action of all countries against terrorists as it has brought after 9/11?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Distribution justice

CAC class has always triggered lot of emotions in me. Todays class was the most puzzling one. In the entire class, I was thinking about the points and questions raised by Prof. Raju. How many of us will be ready to pay more for the commodity only for the sake of distributive justice? Do not we feel cheated when we pay more for the commodity that is available at lower cost at some other place? And the most fundamental of all, how are we helping a poor milkman by paying Rs50 per litre of milk when the market price is Rs.20 per litre. Are not we directly telling him that “ poor chap, I pity you?”

I do not completely disagree with the theory of distributive justice taught by the professor. My only point of concern is his expectations from consumers to pay more for the productions of poor people. I would be interesting in knowing why the price of that commodity is low. Taking his example forward-“ why is milk sold at Rs.25 per litre while coldrinks at Rs.40?” Economics will simply say “ a theory of supply and demand” and take the back seat. I think there is something dipper in the story. Were it only supply-demand, what if all milk producers join and decide to sell milk at higher price? Will that drive the price of milk upward? I am not very sure about the potential of collective action here. Because they need money badly, they will always be tempted more to break the cartel.

I go back to my fundamental question’” Are we expecting that if we pay more to one milkman, he will ask for more from his other customers and thus a loop will be created which will finally culminate in to higher price of milk?” If we are thinking on those lines, I think we are expecting too much. What all you have to say my dear friends?

Please help me in getting out from this dilemma.

Waiting for your reply
Ravi kumar Dhanuka

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Problems in collective action:An example

Here I would like to cite an example from my field work in Khirsu(Uttarakhand).People were using an underground water resource for meeting their drinking needs.They had built a cemented structure(tank) around it, to store water.Gradually the cement started coming off and it was felt that the structure(tank) needs fixing.People started collecting "chanda"(money) but there were some persons who thought that in any case it has to be made so why should they give money?
Money collection was not enough and a meeting was organized .Some of those who declined earlier, gave money but others again said "the people living near tank consume much water than we do".They further said" those people even wash their clothes with this water" hence they will not give equal amount of money..I dont know what was in their can one overcome this problem of nonparticipants benifiting from collective action? Do you have any solution to this problem.

why collective action is necessary?

Friday, December 12, 2008

CAC and Individuality

Human beings are the most confusing yet the most intriguing species. They understand, comprehend, judge, love, abhor etc but the most astounding emotion they emote is that of 'pretention'.
It is this quality that helps them to adapt and change according to need. In a group where one stays merely because of compulsion and dire need; does one really reveal one's true emotions or feelings? Why is one scared to show one's most honest feelings? When he laughs is he really laughing or he is simply pretending to be accepted as part of the group?
"Marginalised people cooperate" are words of Raju Sir but I wonder can cooperation lead to further marginalisation of an individual?
Every sphere and paradigm I have seen of life(be it in urban or rural areas); I see clear cut boundaries, limitations and restrictions. Man develops relations for self interests but then its his individuality that wants to break free. Isnt then family, social ties, groups and our roots developed through blind following of ancestoral religion and morality functioning as limitations.
To think about it what is the need for Naming a New born. Whenever we see a baby; our reflex action is to ask for his name. Not finding out the name makes one feel perplexed and on the other hand knowing the name makes us feel connected to that baby.
May be it is this need and want of man succumbing him to strong ties of friendship and love through acts of cooperation and consensus.

evolution redefined...

wat i'm bout to write is based upon some of the thoughts generated by sid's blog...

but then, sid's q related more to collective action per se...on the other hand, my thoughts were more about some of the assumptions that we make before defining collective action...and hence the need for a seperate discussion....

the crux of my argument is 'humans might not be the pinnacle of evolution'....i dont have a concrete philosophy behind my argument, but i'l put in my arguments nevertheless...

1) Let me first take non-violent movement of Gandhi...all of us think that non-violence in the face of violence is the greatest achievement...but if this is so, then i think the trees around us and all the herbivorous animals are higher forms of evolution because they practice the toughest thing (as defined by us) day in and day out...might be the plants and the animals decided not to become humans bcos they saw the evil in being a human...and therefore it might be possible that most of the trees around us might have evolved from Homo Sapiens...

2) All the brain research that I have read about have the goal of finding out whether some other organism's brain is as evolved as that of a human...but has any research started off without the assumption that human brain is the most evolved...i mean, we define intelligence as grey cells in brain...but what if this is not actual intelligence...what if length of root of any plant is the actual measure of intelligence?? my point is, humans are the most intelligent bcos v has set ourselves as the perfection that every other organism should aspire for....nd v compare all other's with this scale...

It might be opportune to mention here that until about 500 years ago, we thought that everythin revolves around the earth....we conceptualised it this way to boost our ego, the argument being 'since humans inhabit earth, everything revolves around the earth'....

let the thrashing begin....turn me to pulp....

punchline - are coconut trees evolved mallu's??

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

what we wants peace or aggitation

Dear friends,

In Collective action, we are talking about action for some social cause. but, according to Popkin people do it because of their self interest in it. yes, it is right whenever,we have option we go for better return with less effort. one factor is Self issurance i.e. food,house,livelihood,rights. a common man never think for any action. we are born up with the tendency "accept what is available". When these all action are driven by self interest, then how we can say, it is rational or irrational.

Action demands Body,Mind,Spirit,Need,Motivation,Finance also. is it possible to do something without thinking ??. in these mass action, people loose their life and in last, who get the benefit.....Free riders and only few of those activist. it is very easy to say that we are integral part of society...but, how much time we sacrifce for society, environment. 

we are ready for bargain and trade-off with situations. never think about those people, who are suffering from these. Industralisaton is good. but, is it good if, you are doing for your personal interest.A farmer loose his land /livelihood for our housing apartment, factory.

So,  what you choose: 1. Collective action by farmers /Affected people

                                       2. Collective action by us ( Using resources efficiently)

I have nothing more to say, "it is all upto us. what we wants peace or aggitation".

levels of cooperation... are the priorities right??

while reading the essay on the various levels of cooperation, a few points had been raised by the author, which are rankling in my mind. i would like you people to help me get some ideas as to where my line of thought is going astray.
first, a little general idea about the author's view point; he states that the 'True cooperation is found in other centered behaviour, i.e., cooperating in terms of the largest good'. he also treats the reflex level of cooperation as the most basic, and as deduced by his writing, as the most limited and elemental form of cooperation.
i am confused now... why is the form of cooperation that has played the most integral part in the evolution of ALL life, (not just of humans, but the whole array of life forms) considered as the lowest level. on the other hand, the other centered level of cooperation, which, according to me, has hardly been witnessed in the history of mankind, has been accorded the highest level!!
think about it... how much have we, as humans, benefitted from this other centered level, whereas we owe our existence to the so called reflex level. and also, in this others centered approach, we assume that we would be helping and uplifting the other members. so if only one party is the giver, and the others the takers, why is it called cooperation? they give the example of parents and children. this according to me, is not even cooperation. why? because what are the children contributing to the system. they are only taking from it.
therefore, according to me, the priorities should be reversed. reflex level of cooperation is the highest level we have achieved so far!!
people may say that since we don't have enough examples of other centered level of cooperation, it would be unfair to base my argument by comparing the reflex and other centered levels. therefore, allow me to try to compare the reflex and getting ahead level of cooperation. firstly, is this getting ahead level even cooperation? how can you cooperate to compete? it says that people cooperate with some to get ahead of others. but where have we seen that once the individual is stronger than his cooperating group, he would even care to cooperate with them any longer. would he not be having the feeling of getting ahead of even his comrades? if not, then why is he the leader (refer to fifth line of the fourth page of the article). how has he 'gotten ahead' to that level while leaving his comrades behind? that means he was not cooperating his fullest to the group, but keeping a bit extra for himself in order to give himself an edge. i would like to say that it is just manipulation of simple beings by an intelligent organisation or individual to achieve its self interest. SELF INTEREST!!!! a higher level of cooperation is based on self interest?? how can it be called higher then. instead, look at the little amoeba guys, who are ready to drink poison for their friends. so who's the charitable one of the two? also, just think about the stakes here. the so called higher level of cooperation is about improving your personal or (rarely) your cooperating community's condition. but reflex cooperation is about the biggest thing of all. it is about survival. you can say for yourself as to which is the higher one now.
one more thing before you bash me... we know that the reflex and instinctive levels of cooperation are inherent in us, whereas the others are learned. why do we assume that what nature has given to us is of lower value than what we learn? should it not be that what we have received from nature is the biggest and most important asset we have?
i may have not been able to express properly my line of thinking here. but that would become clear only after more discussion.
waiting for your feedback....

Self interest in collective action

Collective action is seen everywhere, from the cities to the villages. For my fieldwork, I went to Kanjani village in Nandurbar district in Maharashtra. The village is a tribal village and kinship prevails there. The sense of bonding and co-operation that was present there was the first time I saw services being provided by various villagers to others at no cost. For eg. An ironsmith in the village would make shears and knives and would not charge any money and neither would he accept anything in kind. At that time, I did not realise the importance of such acts, but after a few sessions of CAC, I realised that if the ironsmith is providing his services free of cost, then he expects an equal amount of service in return. This form of give and take is a result of the self interest of a person, but it is essential to the overall co-operative spirit of the village.
This kind of self interest (or selfishness), results not from a feeling of egotism or self – centeredness, but comes from the basic need of survival. Even an individual ant or bee, which portrays a great show of co-operative action in its swarm or hive, performs the action for its own food and survival needs. So, I think it is correct if we say that co-operation without self interest does not exist. It is only at the highest level of co-operation, that the group begins to think about members outside its group, that such a thing is possible. But such cases are rare.
Another reason for collective action can be the herd mentality. A lot of times, especially during the rebellious teen years, people become part of a group in spite of trying to. A good example of such a situation can be when people become part of a fighting group. Generally, it is just one or two individuals who have some motive behind getting into an argument or a fight. But many among the fighting members are there just because they are aligned to the one or two who actually started the fight.

Collective action and Cooperation during my fieldwork visit

Hello friends, as part of our fieldwork I went to the state Rajasthan. My host organisation was URMUL Trust and my village was Dandkala. It’s a village of Pakistan refugees who settled over here after 1971 Indo-Pak war. In our village Electricity was one issue which touched my heart as despite being an electrified village in government records there was no electricity in the village. When we (me and my village partner Anand) probed further to know the exact reason behind it then we came to know that 4-5 electricity poles needs to be repaired and electricity meters needs to installed in households. We thought that it is not a big deal for us to facilitate villagers on this issue. We started talking to villagers about how to solve this problem. After lot of meetings and discussions villagers came to consensus that the whole village will write one application collectively. Villagers understood the importance of collective action and cooperation needed to solve this problem. Although in Dandkala Rajput and Jaat community are not at very good terms but for the benefit of whole village they decided to cooperate and collectively take action. Villagers wrote one application to let government officials know about electricity problem of Dandkala. We told villagers that since it is an election time so by just little bit of collective effort of electricity can come very soon. After this villagers even talked to local MLA Mr. Devi Singh Bhati about this issue and without any fear demanded electricity for the village. Talking to Local MLA who is extremely influential person clearly demonstrated that it was the collective strength of the whole village which made it possible else villagers are very fearful of him. Villagers decided that all of them would go to submit the application to Executive Engg. at Bikaner. The result of all these efforts resulted in installation of Electricity meters within 12 days in 70 households. It was made possible only because of cooperation and collective action of villagers. This collective action reinforced my belief that villagers need just a facilitator and not sympathizer. Comments Welcome please!!!!!!

fieldwork experience in terms of collective action

Recently we IRMANs have returned from their fieldwork. I think most of us would have got an opportunity to see the collective action for different things. But my experience was a little different. In a state like Rajasthan, in my village have sufficient water supply but the neighbouring village is facing a water crisis. But from the past 4 or 5 years the government has been doing nothing to tackle this situation. It was the local people who understand the micro picture and find ways to solve the problem. They collected funds from each household and some from Gram Panchayat and repaired the kunds, a water storage structure. Thus this community participation forms a very good example of collective action. It also taught me that collective action will be successful when the results reaches community as a whole and just not yield the sectional benefits.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Collective action in Nandigram

Nandigram incident is particularly important in perspective of collective action.We know that the land was earmarked for an industrial park.Salim group of indonesia was going to set up a chemical hub here. But Before their land could have been seized people took preemptive action and despite of being from different religions and casts they fought collectively.They formed "Bhoomi ucched pratirodh samiti" and it is important to note that till that time no big political gun was associated with them.This movement was called "people's battle against imperialist economic attack" by US attorny general Mr.Ramsay Clark.This movement to my mind was a balence between scott-Popkin argument.They were protecting other's land rights and had also some self interest involved.More surprisingly there were small children also who were also excited and giving support to the protestors probably exhibiting "other centred level of cooperation"which is rare these days.

Jajmani system- who wins..scott or popkin??

We did Jajmani System in our RSP course..i guess we all would remember that!! As i was going through the moral economy approach, i thought it really explains why it started in the first place. Collective insurance, social security, discouraging the market forces at least among the community, a "conservative egalitarianism" which gives enough to survive but doest not challenge inequality..the words just fell in place. It felt like it was an analysis of the jajmani system itself.
Then came the political economy approach and it shattered all my arguments. It said that "every peasant was a hard- calculating egoistic individual out there to derive maximum personal advantage." Does that mean that the jajmani system came into place because the small low caste peasants who were hard-pressed for food security were able to extract a good enough bargain from the higher castes? Or was it the other way round, that the landlords got a good bargain in getting services and paying peanuts in terms of grains to the lower castes?
We also know that the jajmani system also worked between the castes of the same hierarchy. In this form, the exchange of services was of more or less of equal magnitude. here, nobody got a great bargain but it still went on because of mutual advatage. It is also noteworthy that in many cases in jajmani system there was an insurance of sorts that in case of need the "jajman" family would come to its rescue.
The most important point where i see an obvious winner in hands of scott is that the system went on for a long time as opposed to popkin's theory that these kinds of co-operations are bound to fail. Moreover, the system died down as soon as the market intervened in villages and people found better prices of their services elsewhere.
I guess i am biased towards scott in this!! What do you all think??

The perspective of looking at collective action and cooperation ......

It is not necessary to look out for big events to understand the dynamics of Collective action and cooperation. It is a very common phenomenon in our lives. Human Beings are by nature social and society itself is synonymous with co-operation and collective action. Humans formed the society because they felt the need for it . Human beings realised that a single person can not be efficient in all spheres of life.Even markets are formed out of this collective action. Here, we may say that collective action and cooperation takes place primarily due to selfish reasons.
Giving an example from the tribal village in West Bengal, the people work for each other in the village but do not charge money for that. In lieu of the work done, they expect the same from others. This is because of the fact that the family size of the villagers is small and they would not have enough of man power or economic power to get their work done.

Monday, December 8, 2008

sustainability of collective action....

when collective activity is rational (according to group, as per mutual decision) but it may be possible taht a lion share of participants are not in tune with the decision. But for the sake of mutual benefit they put ineffeorts in the action. If it is the way to go about, then sustainability of the action is a matter of concern. How long will it sustain?
Because in West Bengal there are rare examples of successful collective action..

are terrorist attacks a form of rational actions

after the mumbai attacks recently, i have been thinking about what could be the rational the terrorist go on with. there are so many people involved in it. the reasons of joining these camps could be many. but when all such like minded people are going on with a motive, can we label these activities as rational action?
what could be their interest as they go on to give their lives away?.. when they are ready to take this extreme step, there is clear evidence that they value something more than self interest..may be they think of their family(financial security promised to the family), if they do so then it is the collective interest of the family which took over the interest of that individual.
in this case the rationality of an individual or selfishness is missing..
your views about this issue can make things clear...

Individual Rational and collective irrational understanding

Friends, I am trying to understand Popkin's belief of collective action failure even in small communities through some concepts in economics.
Lets go through this example: If an individual farmer reaps a bumper crop, he is happy (quite rationally), but if all the farmers reap a bumper crop, all of them could be unhappy. This in economics is known as "misery under plenty" and it arises because the farm produce may be perishable and too much of production may lead to a throw away price.
Hence individually a farmer wants a bumper crop (so does every other farmer), but collectively they may not want to have a bumper crop. Hence all farmers would end up with having less production. Hence there seems to be a conflict in individual and group rationality.
I invite comments on this so that we can have a discussion..

Sunday, December 7, 2008

" is caste system helpful in collective action ?"

dear friends,

in India, caste plays a major role. mainly in rural areas, during my fieldwork everyone in the village was interested in my caste then occupation. i also feel embrassed many times.

but, the view changed when, i came to know how this caste system is way to win the bread and reducing the exploitation. Hadaan village is a drought prone area and in summer government provide drinking water to villagers free of cost through Panchayat.because, Sarpanch belongs to forward caste starts negelacting lower caste people. now, these people does not get water through this scheme.after a span of one week, the lower caste people arrange a meeting with sarpanch regarding this matter.but, the problem was still their. At last, they  (lower caste people) come together and block the state highway.

now, the problem come under notice of government adminstration. the seprate tanker is alloted to these people. which was managed by their own caste people and Sarpanch had been fined of Rs.5000/-.

in my view, in this view caste structure is good for sustainbility of resourceless people. 

Friends, I'm tryin to understand why collective action would happen from an individual's point of view.

My view is that all of us are selfish initially. But it is only when we progress through life that we understand there are limitations to what we can achieve by self-interest alone. Hence, wouldnt it be sufficient to look at an individuals development through life to ascertain whether he will support a collective action intervention at some point of time?

If this is the case, then what we have to focus on is why collective action fails even when there is a critical mass of collective-action-oriented individuals...(societal study)

If this is not the case, then we have to inspect on what triggers support for collective action at individual level...(individual study)..

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Friends, i'm interested in the difference between rational and irrational. My central question is, who decides whether someone or something is rational or irrational? In the first place, by posing this question itself am I not working under the assumption that I'm rational and hence this question itself needs to be rational (again assuming there is perfect correlation between my question being rational and me being rational along with a whole set of other assumptions)?

If this is an assumption that you need to make before engaging in any discourse, how can there ever be something like perfect truth? Because, if there is perfect truth why is there a need for any assumption? (I tried to solve the problem by tautology, but i gave up finally)

Note, I'm just trying to understand the sociological, please try to make the answer as lucid as possible keeping in mind that my basic qualification is Engineering...